One thing we have found in common at all the mercados here in Ecuador is their hard working vendors. Some entire families from Grandma to the infants come to the mercado seven days a week, working long hours just to make a living. Today I went looking for shrimp $3.50 lb, albacora tuna $3.50 lb, frutilla (strawberries $1.50 lb) and lemons 30 for $1 which are really a small green lime like a key lime.
Most of the vendors go out of their way to be so helpful, will try to explain about anything that I am not sure about and will even give me cooking advice when I get that totally lost look on my face. If you want a piece of tuna or marlin you can get as little as a pound, they will clean it by removing the skin or bones and if you are looking for the entire fish they will do the same – filleting it or cutting it into steaks. All you need to do is ask. They do give you all the scraps as folks here use them to make broths and soups. Currently albacora tuna is $3.50 a pound, nice sized shrimp heads-on about 20 to a pound is the same $3.50 a pound. I have purchased pangora (stone crab claws) for $3.50 to $3.75 a pound as well. Because I did not know how to cook stone crab claws the vendor was happy enough to give me basic cooking instructions. Most days you can find Dorado (dolphin or mahi mahi), corvina (sea bass), albacora (tuna), marlin and swordfish, camarones (different sizes of shrimp), almejas (clams), mejillones (mussels), cangrejo (live crabs or cleaned crab meat) calamar (squid), octopus (pulpo) plus an array of small whole fish that I do not know the names for. You can purchase yucca or plantain or sweet potato chips fresh for a $1 a large bag. Vegetables range from long beans, to several different varieties of fresh beans, lettuce, fresh herbs, the standards like tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, scallions and I have even found shallots on occasion. Fruits run from the Mora (blackberry good only for juice or jams can’t just pop them in your mouth), several varieties of apples some Ecuadorian grown most others from Chile. Peaches, plums, melons, pears, bananas just to name a few. Then you have the mandarinas, sour-sop, pineapple, guanabana, tree tomato, avocados. There are stalls with fresh killed pigs, cows, chickens and goats, Joe said he even saw duck at one stall but I guess I missed that. There is an herb man that sells different ground herbs, fresh peanut butter with no additives like sugar or salt, he also sells liquid mixtures of different herb combinations used in specific dishes this is as close to the US’s bottled herb mixes as I have seen here.
It is an adventure just visiting the stalls and seeing what is available, we even found cigars some that look like they are homemade for .15 cents each to those that actually look like a fancy store bought cigar for .25 cents each…Joe like to light one of these up once in a while.
This mercado sells nail polish, soap, pots and pans, live plants, hot dogs, herbal remedies, ball caps and so much more it would take me a week to list everything. Suffice it to say this is one of the better mercados because of its variety of goods.
According to some locals in Salinas, the best way to cook shrimps or crabs is to boil it with seawater. Salinas used to be a salt making town; hence its name.
Is the market near Barcelon Hotel in Salinas as big as this Playa market? I know the Libertad market is the biggest. Their fish market (separate building) is very clean and they have another two big buildings (covers several blocks) just for fruits and vegies alone.
I would say the one here in Playas is a bit bigger, it is an old building or maybe several buildings whereas Salinas has a new building. I have never cooked my shrimp in seawater, but it would be worth a try. Actually they still have salt ponds on the Mar Bravo side of Salinas, when we were in the condo we could see the ponds from our back windows. Thanks for reading! Nancy
Nancy, where is this mercado? Is it the LaLibertad one? Thanks!
Hi Tami, this is the one in Playas. It is located in town right off of Paquisha which is the main road into Playas. Thanks for your questions, Nancy
You look radiant on the profile picture. Ecuadorian life agrees with you 🙂
Chantal, thanks so much for your sweet comment. I do feel relaxed in the Ecuadorian sunshine! Nancy
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So nice to see you back blogging missed your posts
Hi Don, thanks for your comment and thanks so much for reading about our life. Nancy
Nice too see you back posting. You write such interesting stories and your pictures help to put us right there. Good luck in your house hunt. Actually that would make for very interesting reading. Your own version of House Hunters International!
Hi Guys, thanks for reading the blog and for your comments. One day I may take my pictures and post them because you all would be amazed at what is on the market here and what they have the properties listed for…oh my oh my, Nancy